The Original New Zealand
SELF DRIVE TOUR
AUCKLAND | OMAPERE | BAY OF ISLANDS | COROMANDEL PENINSULA | ROTORUA | NAPIER | TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK | WELLINGTON | NELSON LAKES | HANMER SPRINGS | KAIKOURA | MT. HUTT | WAITAKI VALLEY | QUEENSTOWN | GREYMOUTH | CHRISTCHURCH
- Get “off the beaten track” and explore unique experiences and locations
- Witness the turquoise Lake Tekapo
The Original New Zealand
Day 1 : Arrive Auckland
You’ll be met on arrival in Auckland. Make your way to your hotel.
Day 2 : Auckland - Waipoua Forest – Omapere (290km)
Collect your car and make a side trip to Auckland’s west coast and visit a Gannet colony at Muriwai Beach. The views from the colony are very impressive; Muriwai Beach extends 60 kilometres to the north - a line of black sand between the thundering surf and the sand hills. Far below, enthusiastic surfers look like seals on the large ocean swells. Further north the interesting Kauri Museum in Matakohe is the ideal stop for lunch.
Day 3 : Omapere - Bay of Islands (215km)
On your way to the Bay of Islands you will pass beautiful sandy beaches and small fishing villages. Make a stop at the historic Stone Store in Kerikeri by the river.
Day 4 : Bay of Islands
Whatever you choose to do, it will be a memorable experience: The Hole in the Rock, swimming with dolphins, with a picnic stop at one of the islands, go sailing or kayaking. Or wander around the Treaty Grounds and visit historic Treaty House in Waitangi. You can even go on a bus tour to Cape Reinga.
Day 5 : Bay of Islands - Whangarei – Auckland (350km)
Today head south on side roads, along the east coast, past beautiful beaches and bays until you arrive in Auckland.
Note: 18 day tour starts today with arrival in Auckland.
Day 6 : Auckland - Coromandel Peninsula - Tairua (260km)
Travel along the western shores of Coromandel Peninsula. Visit Hot Water Beach, where naturally heated mineral water bubbles up from deep within the earth to emerge through golden sand. You can even dig your own thermal pool at low tide. A nice short walk from Hahei Beach takes you to Cathedral Cove, arguably one of the most picturesque spots (and there are many) in The Coromandel. Here a gigantic arched cavern passes through a white rock headland to join two secluded coves. The cathedral-like arch gives the whole area an air of grandeur. The beach is sandy with shady pohutukawa trees along the foreshore - a perfect place for a picnic or a swim.
Day 7 : Tairua – Rotorua (215km)
You travel along the East Coast and pass through the Kiwi growing area of Te Puke en-route to Rotorua, the heartland of Maori culture and centre of thermal activities in New Zealand.
Day 8 : Rotorua
From crystal-clear streams and magical forests, to epic biking trails and explosive geysers, Rotorua has it all. Discover 18 sparkling lakes, magnificent native and exotic forests, geysers, boiling mud pools, hot springs and the best of New Zealand’s fascinating Maori culture. Perhaps take a guided tour of Te Puia and the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute to see roaring geysers and boiling mud pools, Rainbow Springs Kiwi Wildlife Park, the Agrodome Leisure Park famous for its entertaining sheep show, a gondola cable car to the Skyline complex and Polynesian Spa, New Zealand’s leading international day spa and hot mineral baths (attractions listed here not included).
Day 9 : Rotorua - Te Urewera National Park - Napier (320km)
Today you are crossing Te Urewera National Park and you will be happy to travel by 4WD. The partly gravel road takes you through dense rainforest to the secluded Lake Waikaremoana where you’ll journey into the enchanted green world that surrounds the beautiful lake. Venture through rainforest, wetlands and a magical ‘goblin forest’ before heading on to the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand, Napier.
Day 10 : Napier - Tongariro National Park (190km)
Driving on a less travelled road through the centre of the North Island will give insight into rural New Zealand; the road is fully sealed and goes through one of the largest sheep stations in this country. You stay overnight at the foot of Mount Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park. Perhaps take some time to explore this unique alpine region. The Tongariro National Park is home to the three mountains of Ruapehu; the largest mountain in the north island, Ngauruhoe the youngest volcano and Tongariro, whose landscape has developed over the last 300,000 years. A number of gentle short walks are available or drive up the mountain to the “Top of the Bruce”, a scenic viewpoint.
Day 11 : Tongariro National Park – Wellington (315km)
Your journey continues to Pipiriki and along Whanganui River, the most beautiful river on the North Island. For over 800 years, Maori have lived here, building marae and kainga (villages), cultivating sheltered river terraces and engaging with the forests. Numerous marae still exist along the river, and the river is home to many descendants of the original inhabitants. Head to Wanganui and on to Wellington
Day 12 : Wellington - Nelson Lakes National Park/St Arnaud (140km)
The Interislander ferry cruise through picturesque Marlborough Sound is a highlight of your trip. In Picton you first drive along beautiful Queen Charlotte Drive and then continue through Wairau Valley to St Arnaud in Nelson National Park.
Day 13 : St Arnaud - Hanmer Springs (250km)
A special track with some river crossings takes you from St Arnaud to Murchison; return to the hinterland and travel on remote gravel roads through dense beech forest and cross the main divide via the Lewis Pass before to Hanmer Springs.
Day 14 : Hanmer Springs – Kaikoura (135 km)
Kaikoura is beautifully located by the sea with the snow-capped mountains of the Kaikoura Ranges in the background. Here you have the opportunity to swim with dolphins and seals and watch whales in their natural environment.
Day 15 : Kaikoura - Christchurch - Mt Hutt (275km)
Drive along the coast to Garden City Christchurch. Take a walk through Hagley Park and along the Avon River before you drive across the Canterbury Plains to the foot of the Southern Alps.
Day 16 : Mt Hutt - Lake Tekapo - Waitaki Valley (235km)
The turquoise colour of Lake Tekapo will capture you today. Then you’ll drive along a remote valley, covered by scarce vegetation and tussock grass; climb across a long forgotten and rarely used mountain pass to reach the Waitaki Valley.
Day 17 : Waitaki Valley – Queenstown (350km)
Cross another remote pass and drive through Goldrush country to the tiny village of St Bathans where a handful of historic houses, a pub and man-made lake are the only witness of this era. Cross the wine region of Central Otago and another remote track to the Wakatipu Basin and on to Queenstown.
Day 18 : Queenstown
Visitors are drawn to Queenstown to experience unique scenery, search for adventure, seek out relaxation and rejuvenation, or to just breathe pure mountain air.
Day 19 : Queenstown - Franz Josef (360km)
Cross the Crown Range to Wanaka and over the Haast Pass, a scenic drive with many opportunities to stop and explore, to reach the West Coast where glaciers, rainforests and coast are close together in Westland National Park.
Day 20 : Franz Josef - Hokitika/Greymouth (160km)
Make one of the walks in the glacier area or book a helicopter flight with glacier landing from Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. Hokitika and Greymouth are the jade centres of the country. Visit a workshop and watch the jade carvers do their art work.
Day 21 : Arthur’s Pass – Christchurch (260km)
See the Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki in the morning then head over the Main Divide to Christchurch where the road takes you along Lake Brunner and climbs over Arthur’s Pass, the only real mountain pass in New Zealand.
Day 22 : Depart Christchurch
Drop off your vehicle at the rental car office at the airport and take your onward flight.